The National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) began in 1945 as a yearly observance called “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week” when Congress enacted a law that declared that the first week in October would mark this observance. In 1962, Congress dropped “physically” from the title, acknowledging the needs and contributions of people with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress turned the week long observance into a month long observance and the name was changed to “National Disability Employment Awareness Month” at that time. The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) was established in 2001 and soon thereafter assumed responsibility for NDEAM. ODEP has since worked to stretch the reach and scope of NDEAM across audiences.
The US Department of Labor (DOL) offers different resources and ideas on how organizations can participate during NDEAM:
- Ideas for Employers and Employees
- Ideas for Educators and Youth Service Professionals
- Ideas for Associations and Unions
- Ideas for Disability-Related Organizations
- Ideas for Federal Agencies
This year’s theme is “Because We are EQUAL to the Task.” This theme mirrors the reality that people with disabilities have the talent, education, desire, training, and experience to be successful in the workplace. Postcards, posters, and other promotional materials are available in English and Spanish. To learn more about people with disabilities and employment, please visit the “What can YOU do?” – The Campaign for Disability Employment page to receive news and use toolkits, to show support by engaging in different activities, and to see what organizations support this initiative.